Rare “One-in-a-million” yellow cardinal caught on camera in Alabama

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MOBILE COUNTY, Ala. (WKRG) — A woman in Theodore has made a “one in a million” find in her backyard, according to an Auburn University researcher. 

Karem Maldonado is an avid gardener and bird watcher. She has nine bird feeders in her yard. Last week, she was taking pictures of other birds when she saw a rare yellow cardinal. She has seen hundreds of red cardinals and had heard about yellow cardinals. However, she had never seen one in person. She named it “Mr. Sunshine.”

“He looked at me with one eye, and then looked at me with the other,” Maldonado said.

Maldonado posted the pictures of “Mr. Sunshine” on Facebook, and her post has gone viral, being shared over 2,400 times. She has received comments from people across the country who have been searching for years to find one.

The yellow cardinal is a rare genetic mutation, according to Auburn University ornithologist, Dr. Geoffrey Hill. Hill says the DNA stopped production of the red pigment, therefore, the birds are yellow. He says it’s much like a person with Albinism, where pink skin tones are eliminated.

“All animals carry a DNA code, and all animals have mutations. Certain mutations have a dramatic effect on what the organism will look like. This shows that nature is not static. It is a work in progress and is changing,”  Hill said.

Maldonado hasn’t seen “Mr. Sunshine” since March 11th, but she is adding another bird feeder in her yard, just in case he returns. She is just glad she had her camera out to take photos so that she could prove what her eyes saw!

This is not the first sighting of the yellow cardinal in Alabama. People near Birmingham also had a one-in-a-million sighting last year near Alabaster. Here is a link to a news story about that sighting.  

There is even a Facebook page dedicated to the Yellow Cardinal. Find a link here.  There are some gorgeous photos of the bird, taken by Wildlife Photographer, Jeremy Black.

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Aaron Nolan is a morning show co-host in Little Rock, Arkansas with Nexstar Media Group's KARK-TV. He has a passion for social media and makes it an important part of his daily routine. Click here to read Aaron's full bio.